Climate change is a key factor in increasing the risk and extent of wildfires in the Western United States. Wildfire risk depends on a number of factors, including temperature, soil moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel. All these factors have strong direct or indirect ties to climate variability and climate change (C2ES 2021). The risk of catastrophic wildfires is increasing and becoming increasingly expensive. For example, the Camp and Woolsey Fires in 2018 led to the most destructive fire season in California history, resulting in $8.47 billion and $2.93 billion in losses, respectively. The Australian wildfires of 2019 and 2020 had an estimated cost of over $110 billion.
The Wildfire Hazard algorithm produced by Salo Sciences helps understand wildfire risk. High-resolution Annualized Wildfire Hazard data are produced using canopy and surface fuels data and hourly climatology corresponding to a single historical year. These data, along with topography, are used to drive Monte Carlo wildfire ignition and spread simulations using the ELMFIRE wildfire spread model. The model produces burn probability and burn severity (90th percentile flame length), which are multiplied, then normalized to create a statewide wildfire hazard layer.
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